State of the Beach/State Reports/IN/Beach Description

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Indiana Ratings
Indicator Type Information Status
Beach Access65
Water Quality74
Beach Erosion5-
Erosion Response-4
Beach Fill5-
Shoreline Structures3 3
Beach Ecology2-
Surfing Areas25
Coastal Development{{{19}}}{{{20}}}
Sea Level Rise{{{21}}}{{{22}}}


Indiana's Lake Michigan shoreline is 45 miles long and includes a small part of Lake, Porter, and LaPorte counties, forming the northwest border of the state. Pre–settlement vegetation includes prairie, deciduous hardwood, and wetland species. The Dune and Swale complexes found in this region are globally significant, and Lake, Porter, and LaPorte counties contain the greatest number of rare plant species left in Indiana.

Northwest Indiana’s citizens live among a mix of densely populated cities, steel mills, petro–chemical and power plants, as well as unique natural areas, wetlands, and forested areas. Along the shoreline, residential uses comprise 39 percent of total land area, recreational uses make up 24 percent, agriculture is 20 percent, commercial is 12 percent, and there is 5 percent in “other ” uses. Development, in the form of breakwater structures, the Michigan City lighthouse, and rock revetments, interrupts the natural flow of sand to area beaches. Human disturbance coupled with fluctuating water levels creates a continuing problem for the Lake Michigan shoreline.

The majority of Indiana’s shoreline is parkland with little likelihood of future construction, and much of the rest of the shoreline has been stabilized. For example, the western portion of Indiana’s shoreline is heavily industrialized and largely protected by seawalls and breakwaters. The Lake Michigan shore is home to the fifth largest oil refinery in the world, 25 percent of the nation’s steel production, and the busiest port in the Great Lakes.

Contact Info for the Lead Coastal Zone Management Agency

Lake Michigan Coastal Program
Indianapolis Office:
402 West Washington Street, Room W267
Indianapolis, IN 46204-2782
317/233-0133 FAX

Mike Molnar
Program Manager
Lake Michigan Coastal Program

Jenni Newman
Program Assistant
Lake Michigan Coastal Program

Dunes State Park Annex Office:
Indiana Dunes State Park
1600 North 25 East
Chesterton, IN 46304
219/926-9775 FAX

Sergio Mendoza
Coastal Resources Planner
Lake Michigan Coastal Program

Jenny Orsburn
Program Specialist
Lake Michigan Coastal Program

Joe Exl
Coastal Nonpoint Coordinator
Lake Michigan Coastal Program

Coastal Zone Management Program

Indiana's Lake Michigan Coastal Program is a networked program and the Indiana Department of Natural Resources serves as the lead state agency. The State’s Coastal Program received approval in 2002. The Indiana coastal zone is based on watershed boundaries and varies between a little less than two miles to 17 miles from the shore. The coastal zone is a significant part of Indiana’s economy. The Lake Michigan shore is home to the fifth largest oil refinery in the world, 25 percent of the nation’s steel production, and the busiest port in the Great Lakes.

The Coastal Program works to establish a comprehensive, coordinated approach for the protection, preservation, and orderly development of the state’s coastal resources. Indiana’s most challenging coastal issues include public access to the shore, beach closures, water quality, brownfields, dredging, shoreline erosion, and preservation of natural areas. The Coastal Program is also involved in educational programs such as Coast Weeks, an annual coastal educational festival.


State of the Beach Report: Indiana
Indiana Home Beach Description Beach Access Water Quality Beach Erosion Erosion Response Beach Fill Shoreline Structures Beach Ecology Surfing Areas Website
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